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S. August Abbott, CAS
S. August Abbott, CAS, Own Animal Care/Rescue Org.
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 7532
Experience:  We rescue what others leave behind; Animal Care author; Behavior & Nutrition Consults
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My older dog keeps licking the couch, floor, rug. He just ...

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My older dog keeps licking the couch, floor, rug. He just threw up a couple of times. I took him outside and he was eating grass like crazy. What should I do to help him?

There could be any number of reasons for dogs licking floors/carpet, walls and even bedspreads or cushions. When a dog is stressed or bored, obsessive-compulsive behaviors may develop. Distractions, providing interest and outlets, attention directed elsewhere on a consistent basis may resolve the problem, but it takes dedication and perhaps even a slight lifestyle change on the part of the humans.

In an older dog like yours, Hypoadrenocorticism (Cushing's Disease), liver failure or neurological disease may also be at least part of the cause.

It may be a tooth or gum problem too.

Assessment by a veterinarian is necessary in order to rule out physical cause.


Other abnormal ingestive behaviors include Pica (eating non-food items), Coprophagia (ingesting feces on purpose), Polyphagia/aerophagia/psychogenic water drinking beyond necessary or healthy amounts to maintain daily fluid balance.

There may be a cognitive dysfunction (senility/dementia) or simply attention-seeking. When there's cognitive changes they also typically include confusion, not seeming to remember commands/tricks or where they are in the house. They may soil inside the house, on beds/furniture and become disoriented easily. Changes in sleep pattern are also noticed, with pacing and barking.


Currently there is only one approved medication (Selegiline) for canine cognitive dysfunction. It must be administered for life and regular renal evaluations are necessary to be sure there's no hepatic side effects (liver disease/failure).


When physical causes of compulsive licking is ruled out (and it must be ruled out first), addressing the OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) with behavior modifications and consideration of medication may be undertaken.

This could be the result of fear, anxiety, hyperactivity, boredom, stress or any combination.

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Please let me know how this goes with him ok?


S. August Abbott, CAS and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for your answer. He is an older dog and has had many health problems since we rescued him from an abusive home. He is on pills for arthritis and had over half his teeth pulled this past summer. He is also going blind and his hearing is going now. He goes for bloodwork tomorrow for his arthritis. I will speak to the doctor ASAP. Unfortunatley he matches the discription for cognitive dysfunction to a t. The last few days he has been soiling on the couches. We have also noticed he has started barking in his kennel at night which is totally out of character for him since he was seriously abused when a pup and hasn't barked much since. Thak you for your help.

Though his story is very sad, his life has a happy-ever-after ending. If it's another several years or not - he's been truly blessed to have a home that's safe, loving and gentle.

I've taken in animals from horrific conditions and they've had just moments to live - I try to convince myself that at least for those moments, they knew what love and kindness was.

Your dog has much more than many ever get. You're doing a remarkable job.

Please let me know how it goes ok?

(you do not have to press accept again - you can re open this question any time to follow up)


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